The Vaccination “Debate”

Sean Muth, Sentry Staff Reporter

If you want to start a debate at any large gathering, just say the word “vaccine.” Controversy surrounding the efficacy and possible side effects of having young children vaccinated has been discussed for the past few decades. Research published in an English journal connecting vaccines to autism only fueled the fire. This led to a decrease in the vaccination rate in the United States which is one of the reasons why there was an outbreak of measles at Disneyland in Anaheim, California just two months ago. The fact is that everyone should be vaccinated, because they are only putting others at risk if they aren’t.

While most people have heard that there has been a study showing that vaccines could cause autism, some people do not realize that the it was debunked. In 1998 an article was published in the journal The Lancet that claimed there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines and autism. In 2010, the study was dismissed as fraud as the author of the article, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was paid over $500,000 by a law firm to come up with data that linked vaccines and autism so they could sue large vaccination manufacturers. Dr. Wakefield produced false data and his article was pulled from The Lancet and his medical license was revoked.

The fact that this study was debunked makes me wonder why some people still believe that this connection between vaccinations and autism exists. A survey conducted last year by the National Consumers League found that 29% of the adults in the US believed that vaccines could cause autism. If the whole scientific community did not agree with a study linking the two, I would think that the study should not be trusted.

Vaccines can literally rid the world of a disease. If everyone in the world was given the MMR vaccine, the disease would be wiped out. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 following a campaign by the World Health Organization to destroy the disease. The two surviving samples of smallpox are contained in Atlanta, Georgia, the location of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters, and in Koltsovo, Russia. Since the smallpox vaccine was responsible for the disease’s eradication, it would make sense for people to get the MMR vaccine. If everyone got themselves vaccinated we would eventually get rid of measles, mumps and rubella all together.

Not getting your child vaccinated is only putting them at risk to contract a disease that could be easily prevented. Believing the “data” found in an illegitimate study of vaccines whose lead author is no longer allowed to practice medicine in his home country is ridiculous. Believing the claims of celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, one of the correspondents at “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” who stated that vaccines caused her son’s autism, is equally ludicrous. People in the United States should educate themselves on vaccination and not just believe every statistic they hear someone spew out. Only then can this “debate” on vaccines be put to rest.